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Hardball, hardwood on March sports calendar

The month of March is when we put aside our collective obsession with all things pigskin and turn our attention to other athletic endeavours. Here’s a look at 10 highlights on the March sports calendar.

MLB Spring Training (March 1-26)

Baseball’s spring training schedule, with hitters trying to find their groove at the plate and pitchers trying not to blow out any part of their arm, continues until March 26. As usual, spring training is split into the Grapefruit League in Florida and the Cactus League in Arizona, with 15 teams in each of those circuits.

NBA Regular Season (March 1-31)

NBA teams start jockeying for postseason positions in earnest in March, as the regular season will come to a close in the second week of April. The advent of the play-in tournament, which gives two extra teams a shot at a playoff berth, keeps the interest level up in a few more markets with middling teams throughout March with just the truly hopeless having nothing to play for but draft position in the month.

NHL Regular Season (March 1-31)

The NHL regular season follows roughly the same timeline as the NBA regular season, meaning it’s also crunch time in that league in the month of the March. With no play-in tournament in the NHL, however, those below the postseason cutoff line at the start of March have some extra work to do in the month.

F1 Bahrain Grand Prix (March 2)

There are three Formula 1 races on the calendar in March, with the Bahrain Grand Prix taking place on March 2, the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix contested on March 9, and the Australian Grand Prix set for March 24. The season gets underway at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, in a race won last season by Max Verstappen. Sergio Perez was second that day, giving Red Bull a 1-2 finish, while Fernando Alonso rounded out the podium for Aston Martin. Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in Bahrain last season; Hamilton made big F1 offseason news by announcing he will be leaving Mercedes for Ferrari starting in 2025.

CBB Conference Tournaments (March 4-17)

It’s the madness before the Madness, with college basketball conference tournaments doing their part to set the field for the NCAA Tournament in the early and middle parts of the month. Notably, the Missouri Valley Conference and the WCC tournaments get underway in early action on March 7, with the ACC, Atlantic 10, and Big 12 tournaments starting on March 12, and the Big East, Pac-12, Big Ten, American Athletic, and SEC tournaments all tipping off on March 13. All wrap up before or on March 17.

UFC 299: O’Malley vs. Vera 2 (March 9)

A bantamweight title fight headlines the UFC 299 card at the Kaseya Center in Miami, with champion Sean O’Malley putting his belt on the line against Marlon Vera. Those two also fought at UFC 252 in August 2020, with Vera taking that bout by TKO in the first round. Also on the UFC 299 card are Dustin Poirier vs Benoit Saint Denis in a lightweight fight, Kevin Holland vs Michael Page and Gilbert Burns vs Jack Della Maddalena in welterweight fights, and Petr Yan vs Song Yadong in a bantamweight fight.

THE PLAYERS Championship (March 14-17)

It’s not one of the four majors, but THE PLAYERS Championship is still a pretty big deal on the PGA Tour. Taking place at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, THE PLAYERS Championship was won last year by Scottie Scheffler by five strokes over Tyrrell Hatton and seven strokes over Tom Hoge and Viktor Hovland. Cameron Smith was the winner of this event in 2022, with Justin Thomas claiming the title in 2021. Rory McIlroy claimed the pre-pandemic victory at this event in 2019.

CBB Selection Sunday (March 17)

All of the college basketball conference tournaments will have wrapped up by late afternoon on March 17, and the NCAA selection committee will then get together to set the final bracket for the NCAA Tournament. The Selection Sunday show, which reveals the entire 68-team field, begins at 6:00pm ET on CBS, with the nitpicking about who exactly made the 68-team field getting underway a short time later.

CBB NCAA Tournament (March 19-31)

Hoops fans get a one-day breather before NCAA Tournament action starts on March 19 and March 20 with the First Four games at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio. With the field then whittled down to 64 teams, the first round of the tournament takes place on March 21 and March 22 across eight venues – savvy fans develop illnesses that prevent them from going to work on those two days – with the second round on March 23 and March 24. The Sweet Sixteen, this year in Boston, Dallas, Detroit, and Los Angeles, is set for March 28 and March 29, with the Elite Eight rounding out the month on March 30 and March 31.

MLB Regular Season (March 28-31)

Baseball’s regular season gets going on March 28 with 15 games on tap, starting with a 1:10pm ET matchup between the Milwaukee Brewers and the New York Mets at Citi Field. The highlight matchup of Opening Day has the Texas Rangers hosting the Chicago Cubs in a 7:35pm ET contest on ESPN. Those opening series then continue through the end of the weekend, with the Los Angeles Dodgers hosting the St. Louis Cardinals on March 31 in the first Sunday Night Baseball broadcast of the season on ESPN.

With zero championships between his MLB, NHL, and NFL teams over the last 30 years, Dave keeps one foot in the past while shaking his fist at the present. Having provided content to all manner of sports websites over a 20-year career in the industry, Dave brings to Attiq an eye for all things editorial and a disdain for all things New York Yankees. Click here for Dave's posts.